Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Behind the Scenes of the Project Ara Modular Smartphone

Harrison Weber, reporting for VentureBeat:

“We had a philosophy that this phone was not for the iPhone-carrying, latest Samsung Galaxy-carrying smartphone owner in the U.S.,” said Makoski. “We wanted to bring access to the internet, to the smartphone space, to those who previously didn’t have it. And part of the ways to do that is to create a platform where an India telecom could put customized radios into Ara for a $50 price point or a $100 price point, or it could scale all the way up to something for Latin America or the U.S.”

[…]

At the start of 2015, Eremenko’s dream of a $50 phone had evaporated. “The evolution of what Ara was supposed to be had changed so much because of the big question mark around what consumers actually wanted,” a source who worked on Ara told VentureBeat. “And a $50 [smartphone] is just not technically possible. That’s the truth. Anybody who makes smartphones can tell you that.”

So Ara pivoted.

“Pivoted” is a curious euphemism for “tanked”. The article also features the headline “Inside the rise and fall of the world’s most revolutionary phone”, but I’m not sure something can be called “revolutionary” when the smartphone market has moved towards more singular products, not the modular ideas of Ara. It’s a novel idea, but nobody I know was even remotely interested in assembling their own smartphone.